The enterprise is drowning in apps. According to Tonkean’s State of Business Operations Report, more than 82% of IT leaders surveyed believe their organization uses too many software apps. One significant side effect is that too many apps force workers into constant change management, sharply curbing efficiency and leaving workers frustrated, bored, or even burnt out.
This is in part because today we turn to apps—either those custom built by IT, or purchased off the shelf—to address every operational problem. But whether built or bought, apps often don’t improve our operations in the way we want them to. They may improve the ability of individual employees or teams to complete a set of specific tasks, but they prove challenging to use in concert, and in turn create process gaps.
Further, organizations typically don’t think enough about the process experience for users. The experience of using some of those apps is less than ideal, which further complicates things; faced with a poor user experience, busy workers will find ways around established systems and processes.
We don’t necessarily need more tools. What we need is a way to use the tools we have better, smarter, more strategically.
That’s what process orchestration software is designed to do. And process orchestration can improve the process experience for customers, be they internal or external. In turn, they’re more likely to follow your established processes, leading to greater efficiency and less risk.
What Is Process Orchestration?
Process orchestration software, as the name suggests, helps operations teams better orchestrate—meaning execute, monitor, and manage—entire business processes across teams and existing systems.
Meaning, process orchestration platforms help you more strategically use what apps you already have.
Process orchestration platforms sit a layer above your apps—including automation tools designed to automate specific sets of tasks, such as RPA tools, which can be used to automate repetitive, manual tasks—as well as your data systems and employees. This is to allow more holistic management.
Ultimately, process orchestration platforms allow users to orchestrate and optimize workflows that involve many steps across multiple entities in a way that extends the capacity of existing tools, connects formerly siloed technological environments, and enables users to focus on high-value work for which they’re uniquely qualified. This, as opposed to having to spend so much time working manually bridging the technology gaps and delivery issues the apps we rely on force them to do today.
One way to think of process orchestration is as a tool for the conductor of your company’s operational orchestra. That conductor doesn’t actually play the instruments, but they make sure the right instruments are being played at the right times. (Automation, on the other hand, is as if you had a robot playing a particular instrument instead of a human.)
Integral to this functionality is, indeed, automation capability. But process orchestration software—which incorporates automation—differs from pure task automation software (think: RPA) in several important ways.
First, task automation is more limited in scope, designed to do things such as connect individual systems (iPaaS) or automatically complete specific, singular and typically simple tasks (RPA).
RPA is in fact perhaps the most common example; it specializes in automating tasks that were previously done manually. It’s immensely useful in auto-handling for users repetitive work.
Task automation tools are generally incapable, however, of automating processes predicated upon multiple steps, more complex business logic, or that require interfacing across several different kinds of systems and departments.
That requires a more sophisticated and comprehensive approach. Enter: process orchestration.
Process orchestration platforms allow ops and IT teams the ability, finally, to manage—harmoniously and with strategy—all of a company’s various moving parts. In effect they allow you to streamline and optimize entire processes end-to-end, in part by incorporating functional elements from across your available tech stack, from the integration capacity of iPaaS to the repetitive power of RPA.
Although process orchestration platforms combine elements of other automation platforms, they aren’t focused on building new apps (like iBPM platforms) or automating specific tasks (like iPaaS, RPA). Because process orchestration platforms can also come with native connectors and capabilities like OCR and NLP, they can be used to handle business processes standalone, but they can also be used in conjunction with other automation platforms to add more flexibility in defining and managing the process logic.
Overall, process orchestration software empowers users to make more strategic decisions and execute more efficiently with not only their other automation tools, but all of their operational infrastructure’s unique mix of moving parts. They also grant you more dexterity. In effect, through more holistic control, these tools help to facilitate entire business processes across systems and teams, making sure that the right action is taken at the right time, whether that’s updating a system or following up with a person, and managing items throughout the lifecycle of the process.
Benefits of process orchestration software
Key benefits of deploying process orchestration software include increasing your operational efficiency, reducing cost, supercharging your company’s innovative capacity (by empowering users to make more strategic use of their talents), freeing up valuable IT resources, and improving the process experience for customers.
Here are a few other key benefits:
Improve processes end-to-end. Process orchestration software can provide a holistic view of existing processes and systems. In doing so, process orchestration helps users connect previously siloed systems and better orchestrate people and tools. Ultimately, process orchestration platforms allow you to finally actually begin improving processes end-to-end. They turn process designers, ops, and IT teams, in this sense, into directors of an orchestra. Whereas before, you could equip your people with powerful instruments, but not truly help them play better together, with process orchestration platforms, you can do it all.
Increase adaptivity. Process orchestration solutions accomplish the aforementioned in part by knowing how to work with both systems and people, maintaining a human-in-the-loop capability to allow people to step in and take necessary action to steward processes along, or make key decisions, when needed. Such functionality ensures teams are always able to take the right action at the right time, which increases flexibility and adaptivity.
Integrate with native connectors. Process orchestration solutions work on top of existing solutions, allowing integration to existing tools via native or custom connectors. Some also have advanced capabilities like OCR (optical character recognition) and NLP (native language processing) to handle a wide range of business processes.
Improve the process experience. Process adoption in many enterprise settings is low. In Procurement, for example, 50-80% of spend is “rogue spend.” In Legal, 67% of employees routinely skip legal policies, and Legal Ops pros spend 4-6 hours per day handling unplanned legal requests. This is because few people know what the processes are, and even if they do, they’ll find a way around them if the experience is onerous. The key is to increase process adoption by making it so that following your processes is easier than not. Process orchestration helps make that possible by reducing change management from app to app and by adding user-friendly interface layers to your tools like the AI Front Door.
Overall, enterprises that deploy process orchestration platforms are better positioned to increase the efficiency, adaptivity, and performance of their processes–and process adoption.
Tonkean Case Study: Eversana
Let’s take a real-world business example of how Tonkean’s process orchestration software helped a company overcome their operational challenges.
Eversana provides solutions for improving patient experiences for hundreds of startups and established pharmaceutical companies in the life sciences industry. The company’s challenge came during the pandemic, when it needed to create processes for its clients who were out of work and suddenly losing their employer-provider health insurance. Specifically, those clients were requesting solutions to help patients enroll themselves in affordability programs.
The company looked into RPA tools to streamline the process, but they found that they required too much engineering expertise to implement and weren’t expedient enough to keep pace with COVID-era changes. Instead, they used Tonkean’s process orchestration platform and had a solution up and running within a couple of weeks.
Tonkean hooked into a patient self-service web portal via an API and orchestrated all of the behind-the-scenes processes of the patient’s information and checking their program eligibility. A human-in-the-loop element ensured that escalating requests were handled quickly, and the history view allowed the company to understand the mechanism behind each action and facilitate debugging.
With a single Tonkean module for a single client, Eversana served hundreds of patients in the first month alone. The company has since begun rolling out more modules to more clients. Tonkean’s process orchestration platform not only helped Eversana’s team quickly implement a desperately needed solution–it also improved the process experience for clients that saved them time and made it easier for them to find affordable healthcare solutions.
Learn more about what Tonkean can do for your organization here.